Once again, Trump joins in on the western bandwagon against Russia. In 2017, Trump ordered the closure the Russian consulate in San Franciso, yet there still remained voices saying he wants detente with Russia.
President Trump can, of course, do whatever he wishes, legally speaking, and he does appear to change his opinions whichever way the wind blows, but Trump’s expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and closure of the Seattle consulate seems to confirm, once again, that practically speaking, his approach on Russia is not dissimilar to what we’ve had in years past. RT reports:
President Donald Trump has ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle. It comes in response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, which the UK has blamed on Russia.
The move follows major diplomatic pressure by the UK on its allies to follow their lead in expelling Russian diplomats. The Russian embassy in Washington had previously urged Trump not to heed the “fake news” on Skripal’s poisoning.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Moscow of being behind the poisoning of the former spy Skripal and his daughter in the town of Salisbury in early March.
Breaking: US to expel 48 Russian embassy workers in Washington, D.C. and 12 at the Russian mission to the U.N. U.S. says they were intel officers using diplo status as cover. pic.twitter.com/mRuwY8Tes6
— Patrick Tucker (@DefTechPat) March 26, 2018
It is really telling how in the White House release, the diplomats are listed as “Russian intelligence officers”. It is a very thinly veiled excuse, as its easier than saying “We would like to expel diplomats, because our administration is incapable of actually resisting the deep state, and draining the swamp.”
It seems a fair percentage of Trump’s supporters came from those who were not so much “Make America Great Again”, but also those who wanted better relations with Russia and the world.
The MAGA crowd may have been the loud mob, but the real intellectuals behind Trump were those that understood American triumphalism was part of the problem, and the US needed real diplomacy again with the world.
Those voices have now been drowned out, and pushed out of the administration it seems; what was meant to be actions to drain the swamp, turned out to be a Swamp coup. The RT report continues:
Of the 60 diplomats expelled, 12 formed part of the Russian mission to the United Nations. In a statement, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the 12 Russians in question had “abused their privilege of residence” in the US and had “engaged in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security.”
Haley said that the Russian diplomats had used the UN as “a safe haven for dangerous activities within our own borders.”
Mass co-ordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats:
US – 60
Czech – 3
Ukraine – 13
Lithuania – 3
Latvia – 1
Poland – 4
Germany – 4
France – 4
Good day for Downing St.
— Alistair Bunkall (@AliBunkallSKY) March 26, 2018
During a summit in Brussels last week, the 28 EU leaders agreed with Britain’s assertion that it is “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the attack on Skripal.
Members of the EU numbering 14 have also decided to expel Russian diplomats following Britain’s lead.
Canada has also jumped on the bandwagon, announcing that it will expel four Russian diplomats “in solidarity” with the UK.
The timing of the expulsions by the US, EU and Canada appears to have been coordinated between Washington and Brussels. Eight EU countries confirmed within 15 minutes of each other on Monday afternoon that they would expel a number of Russian diplomats. Canada’s announcement followed shortly after.
Just judging by some ordinary Russian reax to the Novichok thing, it seems that much more needs to be done to show there isn’t any animosity toward them as a people. Unilateral visa-free regimes, major investments in exchange programs, etc. These are the missing components, IMHO.
— Matthew Bodner (@mattb0401) March 15, 2018
Moscow has always denied playing any role in the attack, and offered to cooperate with the investigation into the incident. Britain has declined, however, to send samples of the chemical agent used on Skripal and his daughter to Moscow.
Russia has predictably announced there will be reciprocal measures, not specifically against the US, but against all those who expelled Russian diplomats. Sputnik reports:
Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, France, Denmark, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Canada, Romania, Finland, Croatia, Albania, Sweden and the US have decided to expel Russian diplomats amid the Skripal case.
“We express a decisive protest over the decision taken by a number of EU and NATO countries to expel Russian diplomats. There will be a mirror-like response. We will work it out in the coming days and give our response with regard to each country… We consider this step as unfriendly and not serving the tasks and interests of establishing the causes and finding the perpetrators of the incident that took place on March 4 in Salisbury,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It is so tragic to watch diplomacy be torn asunder, along with “innocent until proven guilty”. Explosions of diplomats are one matter – and it is very telling that of all the countries, the US is expelling 60 – but the closure of a consulate is another matter. And they wonder why Russia has lost respect for the west.
Consulates exist above all – to promote diplomacy. By closing a consulate, one is very plainly destroying a channel for diplomacy.